With awards, Bollywood shows growing imprint in US

With awards, Bollywood shows growing imprint in US

Bollywood this week throws its premier awards event for the first time in the United States, which has quietly become the leading overseas market for India's prolific film industry.

The International Indian Film Academy tomorrow kicks off four days of festivities in Tampa culminating in an awards ceremony on Saturday that will bring out Bollywood's glitterati and Hollywood legend John Travolta.

While Bollywood is known for its extravagant song-and-dance routines, its expansion into the United States has been more understated. Indian films are increasingly shown in mainstream US cinemas which set aside specific screens and times.

The United States has topped Britain in recent years as the largest overseas market for Bollywood, fueled by demand from the three million-strong Indian American community and the growing ease of distributing movies through the digital format.
"Dhoom 3," the latest installment of a thriller series which is nominated for best picture at the Tampa awards, broke US records for Indian cinema after it was released last year.

Set largely in Chicago, "Dhoom 3" grossed more than $8 million in the United States and Canada, roughly on par with "Before Midnight," the second sequel to the US romantic classic "Before Sunrise."

Indian cinema's growth can easily fly beneath the radar in the United States, which has by far the world's largest box office and is thoroughly dominated by domestic fare. India, in turn, has the largest output of films at more than 1,100 a year.
But Gitesh Pandya, a US-based consultant for Bollywood studios, said that Indian cinema had innate advantages as it has a consistent audience of Indian Americans who are often well-educated and generally do not need expensive promotional campaigns to woo them to the movies.

Indian films that just five years ago would have opened at 80 to 85 screens in the United States now start in more than 200 theaters including in smaller cities where cinemas are happy to fill seats however they can, Pandya said. 

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